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July 31, 2012 at 10:27 AM

CONCACAF Champions League arrives (Tuesday links)

ccl logo.jpgThe 2012-13 CONCACAF Champions League group stage kicks off this week and the first MLS team in action is Real Salt Lake tonight against Costa Rican club Herediano.

The Sounders first game is Thursday at home against Trinidadian club Caledonia AIA.

As a reminder, there are quite a few changes to this year’s tournament. First off, there is no preliminary round. Instead all 24 teams advance to group stage, where there will be eight three-team groups instead of four four-team groups.

Here is coach Sigi Schmid on the changes:

“What’s nice is you know you’re only playing four games instead of six games,” he said, “so that takes a little bit of the workload off — especially the MLS teams where you’re trying to play it in-season. It drops two games off the schedule, so that part of it is positive. But you also now have to be the group winner, so being second doesn’t work. … I think we did really well on the road last year. What we have to do is get the wins at home. If we win at home and tie on the road, we’ll be where we want to be at the end of the day.”

Let’s get to some links…

* * *

— A couple Sounders Women’s players, Veronica Perez and Kate Deines, have joined their new team in Iceland and they’ll be blogging about it.

— Also, here’s a promotion for fans to cook with Brad Evans at Urbane restaurant.

— Here are some previews for local college teams as the season approaches.

— Around MLS, here’s one author who argues the Red Bulls have the most talented roster in league history, that same New York team signed a defender drafted back in 2009, and a Timber was arrested recently (but it’s believed to be a misunderstanding if you follow the Twitter timeline of reporter Geoffrey C. Arnold).

— Veteran goalkeeper Brad Friedel talks some MLS, but talks down a return.

— Lastly, an update on a potential television broadcast for next week’s U.S. Open Cup final…

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